M. E. Andeshmand

Hidden facts in competing and in voting for the chairmanship of the parliament

December 2005

Written in Persian by M. E. Andeshmand
Translated by khorasanzameen.net
December 2005

In the rivalries for winning the chairmanship of the parliament, and in electing this chairman, many facts were unveiled and many surprises took place. Abrupt coalitions, under cover negotiations and differing and opposing side-takings are some examples. These facts will be judged and evaluated by different points of view through varying analysis and impressions. To what extent these evaluations and beliefs would correctly reflect the bright and dark sides of these realities would depend on proper understanding by the evaluators and fair judgement by the readers. Besides the varying judgements and understandings, many questions requiring serious contemplations are raised about the competing and the voting for the chairmanship of the parliament: What kind of a combination is the body of representatives comprised of, in regard to political loyalties and groups, while competing and voting for the chairmanship? Why did the rivalry took place amongst the former ideological and military comrades? What role did the leadership of the state play in this? How did unexpected coalitions and partitions take place while competing for the seat of the chairman? Were the rivalries based on political and ideological differences, or were they affected by ethnic partialities? Why were the results of the voting for the two main rival candidates (Qanooni and Sayaaf) so close to each other? Taking the analysis and the answers for the above questions in consideration, what image could one draw for the future of parliament?

It was revealed by the results of the voting for the membership of the parliament that an absolute majority of the members were comprised of {former} Mujahidin or their supporters. Whereas many analysts, and the media, had estimated the percentage of the Mujahidin candidates, whom they call “Warlords”, to be less than or about 50%. In the first round of the voting for the chairman of the body of representatives, more than 88% of the members voted for the candidates who belonged to former Mujahidin. In this round, three of the Mujahidin candidates -Younes Qanooni, Abdurab Rasool Sayaaf and Said Ishaaq Gelani- won 108, 88 and 16 votes respectively. Whereas Noorulhaq Olumi, candidate of the left wing members of the parliament and a member of the former People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, received only 12 votes and Shokria Barekzai, a democrat and technocrat woman candidate, won only 9 of the votes. The latter, despite being a devoted supporter of the west and democracy, did not even succeed to win one fourth of the votes of the women MP’s.

One should not forget the fact of course that despite being an absolute majority, the Mujahidin do not make a unified and like-minded movement and they can not keep a solidarity and coordination even within a coalescent united front. The Mujahidin parties, which were known as Jihadi Tanzims (regiments) in the years of the war against the Soviet forces and the government of People’s Democratic Party, were not political parties then and have not changed to political parties even today. Though several of them have been registered as political parties and have been licensed for their activities, their only common point remains to be their opposition and war against the Soviet forces and the government of People’s Democratic Party. But this common thing too belongs to the past and not to the present. Besides this, the Mujahidin parties, and even educated members within a single party or Tanzim (regiment), have differing, and at times even opposing, thoughts, understandings and tastes about different issues, including religious issues. Based on this fact, the Mujahidin representatives in the parliament are comprised of varying personalities: from the pious Muslim opposing America to the moderate Muslim believing in compromise; from military commanders, who have no idea about parliamentary duties, to drug smugglers; from fanatic, narrow-minded and Taliban-like fundamentalists denying women’s social and political rights to modern and democratic characters; from poor and needy Mujahidin who do not possess a conveyance to go to work and have no accommodation in Kabul to Mujahidin who go to parliament in their highly sophisticated vehicles being accompanied by their servants and body guards and possess many villas and business houses in Kabul; From people who encourage ethnic and tribal and lingual bias to open-minded people who see beyond these differences.

Perhaps by taking all of the above mentioned diversities and heterogeneity among the Islamic and Jihadi parties under consideration one can obtain the answer to the question as to why the rivalry for the chairmanship of the parliament happened amongst like-minded persons and former military comrades. But while this may reflect parts of the answer, a complete answer needs more detailed evaluation and discussion.

During the government of Mujahidin led by Burhanudin Rabani{1992-1996}, Abdurab Rasool Sayaaf took Rabani’s side. After the fall of Mujahidin and in the war against the Taliban, he continued to support Rabani and Ahmad Shah Masood, commander of the resistance. Both {Sayaaf and Rabani}adopted similar positions during the presidential elections and supported Karzai. At that time, Karzai promised to support the leader of Jamiat Islami {Rabani} in his battle for the chairmanship of the parliament to maintain ethnical balance in the political power of the country and to strengthen national unity. Sayaaf was very aware of this and expressed full agreement with it. Till the beginning of the election for the chairmanship, there wasn’t any sing of interest from Sayaaf’s side to become a candidate himself. Whereas Rabian’s candidacy was known long before the parliamentary election was carried out. But after the parliamentary election was finished and the results were out, Sayaaf was very unexpectedly announced to be one of the candidates for the chairmanship of the parliament. The negotiations between the tow offered no result as Sayaaf refused to withdraw his candidacy and consequently Rabani told Sayaaf with an angry tone: are all the other people and ethnic groups in Afghanistan immigrants that the entire {political} power should be in the monopoly of just one ethnic group {Pashtun}? As the inauguration of the parliament was getting closer and as Sayaaf was entering the competition as a main candidate and a serious rival to Rabani and Qanooni, Hamed Karzai’s position and observation about the chairmanship of the parliament started to undergo a transition. Despite his unofficial and unannounced support for Rabani till that moment, he announced his neutral vote in the meeting with representatives. He confirmed this to Qanooni but privately promised the leader of Jamiat {Rabani} of his support for him. This happened while Karzai’s brother, Qayum Karzai, and all other Pashtun members of the parliament were busy with their campaign for Sayaaf. It was obvious that this campaign and support {for Sayaaf} was carried out under the instruction of the president, and that Sayaaf was the president’s real favourite candidate and enjoyed his real support.

Before Sayaaf emerged as a candidate, Mohamad Naim Farahi and Mirwais Yasini were known to be the favourite candidates of the president and his inner circle team, comprised of Afghan Milat party and other chauvinist Pashtun elements. But in the evaluations and discussions of this team, the candidacy of both Farahi and Yasini proved to be too feeble to challenge Rabani and Qannoni. The majority of the seats in the parliament were filled by the Mujahidin and the risk existed that their candidates might receive less votes; and their rivals being known Jihadi figures might obtain more votes and win. Their worry was not unjustified of course because as the results later showed, Farahi had obtained only 10 votes and Yasini 49 and the representatives who were supposed to vote for them had voted for Mohamad Aref Noorzayee, a Jihadi figure, and preferred him to Farahi And Yasini. Therefore the said team and the leadership decided to make Sayaaf stand as a rival candidate against Rabani and Qanooni. And so emerged Sayaaf as a candidate for the chairmanship of the parliament and as rival to Rabani and Qannoni, not on the base of difference in opinion or ideology, nor on that of some special political program or theme, but merely on the base of ethnic interests to complete the {already existing} ethnic monopoly of power. To ensure Sayaaf’s success, the team managed to win him the support of Haji Mohamad Mohaqiq {an ethnic Hazara}, leader of Wahdat party. Mohaqiq expected the majority of the Hazara an Shi’a MP’s to support him and it was thought that by winning their votes and those of the Pashtun MP’s, Sayaaf would win a huge majority of the votes and would easily own the chairman’s seat. It is not so clear with what observations and goals did Mohaqiq enter a coalition with Sayaaf and proposed him to be the suitable candidate for the chairman’s seat. But the results of the election show that the real loser in this game is Mohaqiq himself. Politically, he lost more than Sayaaf did. He lost his image so badly that after the election of the chairman and his deputies were over, the members of his party and his supporters didn’t let him deliver his planned speech to explain his coalition with Sayaaf. Later he called the president and asked his assistance in recovering the damage this coalition caused him.

Backed by the unofficial and undercover support of the government leadership, Sayaaf’s ethnically positioned entry into the competition for the seat of the chairman divided the parliament by ethnic divisions and raised serious concerns about the creation of a monopolizing anti-national administration and caused the provocation of ethnic feelings amongst members of the parliament. Many of the non-Pashtun MP’s and MP’s belonging to Jamiati Islami, including its former members, put pressure on the leader of Jamiat and on Mohamad Younes Qanooni, leader of Afghanistan Nawin party, to make one of them withdraw his candidacy in favour of the other. Even Ahmad Zia Masood, vice-president of the country, whose strategy as the first vice-president required maintenence of president Karzai’s consent and contentment, begun to get worried about the situation and joined those who were busy pressuring the two above named candidates in making one withdraw in favour of the other. After a long negotiation and announcing his strong disagreement about Hamed Karzai’s position and Sayaaf’s entrance as a candidate, Burhanudin Rabani agreed to withdraw his candidacy in favour of Mohamad Younes Qanooni. Qanooni, leader of Afghanistan Nawin party, and Ahmad Wali Masood, that of Nahzati Mili (National Movement) party, did in their turn commit to merge their parties with Jamiati Islami party under the leadership of Burhanudin Rabani. In the document, which was signed by Qanooni, Ahmad Zia Masood, a leading member of Nahzati Mili, and Rabani, members of the two diverged groups of Jamiati Islami {Nahzati Islami and Afghanistan Nawin} announced their re-allegiance to Burhanidin Rabani. In this treaty, leadership of the parliament affairs of this coalition was given to Rabani, and it was decided that the making of policies within and outside the National Council and the parliamentary activities of the chairman {Qanooni} should take place under the supervision of Burhanudin Rabani and in consultation with him. Whether the contents of this agreement, some of which are not eligible to be explained and interpreted within the framework of the official laws of the country, will actually be carried out is a matter which one should keep a doubtful eye upon and wait for the future. But this agreement which resulted in the retreat of the leader of Jamiat from his position as a candidate for the chairmanship of the parliament, did pave the way for Qanooni in his battle against Sayaaf.

The results of both rounds of the voting for the chairmanship of the parliament showed that the twisted and ethnically biased policies of the government and its leadership created ethnic divisions within the parliament. In the first round of the voting, the Pashtun representatives were divided a bit and Sayaaf got only 88 votes. But in the second round he received 117 votes. Ramazan Bashardoost and Malalai Juya refused to vote for any of the two candidates and five other MP’s gave neutral votes. Of the rest, all Pashtun MP’s voted for Sayaaf and the non-Pashtuns voted for Qanooni. There must have been some exceptions who did not cast their votes on the base of ethnic interest but because of personal or group relations. But the main atmosphere of the voting was coloured with ethnicity. In the second round, all of the Pashtun MP’s who had not voted for Sayaaf, voted for him. In the 15 minute break between the two rounds of the voting, many of the Hazara and Shi’a MP’s seemed unhappy and upset with Haji Mohamd Mohaqiq. They viewed Sayaaf’s candidacy as an attempt to complete the ethnic monopoly of power in Afghanistan, and therefore all voted for Qanooni in the second round. Most probably Haji Mohamad Mohaqiq was the only Hazara/Shi’a from Wahdat party, who cast his vote for Sayaaf, along with Mula Salam Raketi, former Talaban commander, Sayed Mohamad Gulabzoi, a Khlqi of Taraki fraction, Babrak Shinwari, a Khalqi of Hafizullah Amin fraction, and the MP’s of Afghan Milat party.

In the election of the deputies of the chairman, which happened the next day, the votes were cast again with ethnic bias. Of the 117 votes which were given to Sayaaf and were now supposed to be given to Mohaqiq {one of the candidates for the deputy's seat}, the latter didn’t receive any. One can surely say that the 49 votes cast for Mohaqiq were not of the 117 mentioned above. Instead it was Mohamad Arif Noorzayee who won with 76 votes and became the first deputy of the chairman.

The formation of ethnic partialities in the parliament of the country is undoubtedly a matter of regret and disappointment in regard to its functionality and positive role in stability, national unity, social justice and development in the coming years. This situation is a result of the ethnically biased and anti-national policies of the government and of a certain team in its leadership, which promotes the ideology of ethnic supremacy and has many times succeeded in influencing president Karzai’s policies. This ethnic mistrust which happened again during the voting and competing for the seat of the chairman of the body of representatives, is a continuation of the same current which was created by the ethnic supremacist elements of the leadership in regard to different articles of the constitution, including that of the national anthem, during the national assembly for drafting the constitution. Later this gap of mistrust was further deepened by the formation of an unbalanced cabinet and the centralisation of executive power in the hand of only one ethnic group. As a result of such policies, today we are witnessing the formation of a parliament whose biggest challenge is the challenge of ethnic mistrust amongst its members. In his first press conference, Mohamad Younes Qanooni, chairman of the parliament, pointed this issue out and promised to work hard to solve this problem and to eliminate the atmosphere of mistrust. It is obvious that the success of any such attempt would depend on the transparent and justified national policies of the government in general, and on those of it leader, Hamed Karzai, in particular. The demonstration of national unity by only wearing a Jelak {the long overcoat worn mainly by Tajiks and other ethnicities in Balkh province}, Qandahari sandals and Nangarhari suit, will not be sufficient to create the national trust needed.

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